S. is sick. She’s sick in a hotel room in Bangkok, alone. And she doesn’t manage illness well. When I spoke with her this morning she coughed through much of the conversation. Plus, she looked more than miserable. Yes, I said “looked”–we do video calling via Skype–for free. At least the weekend has already arrived there, so she has 2 days to rest and re-cooperate before returning to the office on Monday and leaving for Hanoi on Tuesday. It saddens me to see her feeling so badly, knowing there’s no one there to care for her or comfort her or run downstairs to the lobby in search of the Thai equivalent to chicken soup.
However, arrival in Vietnam may serve as “Chicken Soup for [S’s] Soul,” since she’ll visit our friend Robin and his wife Luyen who live in Hanoi. Robin, a Brit, served as senior vice president for S’s NGO several years ago, while S. was creating the organization’s disaster response program. While Robin was working in a Vietnamese refugee camp during the war, he met Luyen who had fled the country with little more than her life. They married and have one son. Luyen, interestingly enough, works as a fashion designer and merchandiser in Hanoi. I got to know Robin two years ago when S. and I were attending an event at the Bangkok Polo Club to honor the NGO’s then outgoing regional vice president for Asia Pacific. Robin is a warm, C. S. Lewis like man (at least as I imagine Lewis to have been)–a person whose deep faith is rooted in a social gospel of giving.
At any rate, visiting with Robin, her mentor, will nourish S. in a way a bowl of chicken soup served up this afternoon never could. Plus, I think Robin and Luyen will orient S. to life as an ex-pat in Vietnam. We’re hoping Luyen has connections in Ho Chi Minh/Saigon that can help us locate a suitable apartment in that city–a flat where the next time S. is sick I can cook up a pot of broth that will feed more than body, more than soul–a soup we will share in a new city, on a new continent, in a hurting world.